Key Factors Determining the Ethical Perspective
Today’s complicated business environment has organizations facing a multitude of ethical, responsible, and sustainable decisions to ensure that they thrive in the future. Companies have the responsibility to create codes of conduct, principles, and norms that every team member must adhere to and perform. Furthermore, every organization must strive to do more than pursuing greater profit margins. According to research, for a business to survive in today’s competitive business environment, it must consider being socially responsible (Kosior, 2020). Retail food industries must adopt a position on controversial matters to gain the trust of their consumers. Additionally, industries in the retail food business must incorporate corporate social responsibility (CSR) measures to protect their future. Corporate social responsibility, in this case, refers to an organization’s role in social and environmental sustainability and its leadership in protecting the social landscape in which it operates. Despite some economists and companies rejecting the CSR ideology, some of them have embraced some of its notions.
A number of ethical issues face the retail food industry today. These issues include just and fair treatment to retail food sector employees, particularly as disproportionate minority members seek employment in food and processing service. As time progresses, hunger and food distribution continue to be challenging factors. However, when compared to emerging trends of food labeling and safety, food distribution and hunger appear to be minor problems. According to research, several factors incite the problem of labeling and food safety (Kosior, 2020). The Nutritional Labeling and Education Act mandate retail food industries to provide consistent data on substances used to produce food utilized for dietary purposes. Consumer advocates, the retail food sector, and regulators are continuously asking questions concerning the labeling of food that comes from the genetic material transfer. In addition, the Delaney paradox is one factor that continues to raise concerns about regulating the risks associated with additives, while it does not control risks connected to whole foods.
Currently, firms in the retail food industry are adopting numerous ethical perspectives to thrive in today’s competitive business environment. Business ethics are essential in ensuring that an organization has an excellent reputation (Ngugi et al., 2020). When businesses constantly maintain a good ethical perception, they enhance relationships between customers, employees, and their stakeholders. However, most businesses are adopting new measures that ethically affect their employees. For instance, Walmart is one of the leading retail food companies in the United States. Reports demonstrate that it has been mistreating employees by paying them salaries that are below the minimum wage (Bollani et al., 2019). Additionally, the reports state that the organization has been forcing employees to work even during their breaks. In both situations, employees have sued the organization and won the cases.
One of the predominant ethical views that Walmart uses is the utilitarian perspective, which advocates for pleasure or happiness as the only elements of intrinsic value. In this case, depending on which side, utilitarianism has different impacts. On the managers’ and owners’ sides, this theory applies positively since these individuals are extremely happy. The reason, in this case, is that they have been profiting from the organization’s performance despite the class actions and lawsuits (Devin & Richards, 2016). However, on the workers’ side, the perspective does not apply since they are unhappy. In terms of the Kantianism theory, Walmart has failed to utilize this perspective. Kantianism refers to the act of doing something because it is right and rational. However, Walmart has maintained its traditional methods of operations, which primarily involve providing low wages, poor work environments, and stealing time from workers. Their business model persists in keeping current revenue and profits constant while neglecting their employees.
Walmart can further be analyzed through the virtue ideology, which questions the righteousness of the organization. Walmart’s business ethics are not utilizing this theory in its daily operations. According to studies, Walmart is still using traditional business strategies of cost-cutting to heighten its profit margins (Lerro et al., 2018). As a result, the company experiences slow growth since the business model ensures that it keeps its prices low while cutting costs. Furthermore, Walmart’s model restricts it from trying to adopt long-term solutions to ensure the organization grows and develops in the future. Compared to a company such as Trader Joe’s, Walmart is failing in terms of the virtuous ideology.
Trader Joe’s is a perfect example of the current trends in business ethics. The organization balances both the non-consequential and consequential theories of business ethics. The firm utilizes the utilitarian theory by ensuring that all the stakeholders, owners, and managers, as well as employees, have the highest pleasure. Trader Joe’s provides basic minimum wages for employees, which are reviewed twice a year and further offers a conducive environment for employees and customers (Devin & Richards, 2016). In addition, the organization offers a higher potential for advancement and excellent health insurance for the employee. The consequences of this model are that it improves employee engagement and performance. Furthermore, the model improves the organizational relationship with clients, suppliers, and distributors. Unlike Walmart, Trader Joe’s applies the do no harm theory, which ensures that it cares for both its workers and its consumers.
Currently, companies are further willing to drop certain products because they harm the health of the consumers. For instance, CVS is one of the retail food organizations that removed tobacco products from its shelves due to health concerns. According to reports, the move to ban these products would cost the organization two billion dollars in loss in revenue every year (Lerro et al., 2018). However, the main reason for this move was to demonstrate to the public that the organization cared for the well-being and health of customers. Additionally, this shows that CVS cares about enhancing customers’ healthcare than making more profit. Utilitarianism as a consequential factor of ethics applies in CVS’s situation in various ways. In this case, utilitarianism means selecting a strategy that would result in the greatest level of pleasure for the greatest number of individuals. In terms of executives and managers, the strategy would ensure that they are happy because they would gain higher profits.
Utilitarianism at CVS further ensures that consumers achieve greater heights of happiness by removing tobacco from its shelves. The result is that customers would be impressed because the organization focuses on the well-being and health of the public (Kosior, 2020). Consequently, there would be increased confidence and trust in the organization. Additionally, CVS’s strategy incorporates the “do no harm” theory by removing tobacco products from its shelves. Tobacco is known for its negative effects such as lung cancer. Banning these products ensures that the organization does not harm the public its serves. In terms of Kantianism, the organization needs to find a way to serve cigarette smokers and those that do not smoke. According to the theory, a customer should be used as an “end” and not a “means” to an end (Ngugi et al., 2020). As much as the organization cares for the well-being of its customers, it should not use other customers to achieve this goal. Thus, this requires CVS to find ways to ensure it serves every customer without creating conflicting views.
Another company that demonstrates the predominant ethical perspectives in the retail food industry is Amazon. According to studies, Amazon shows that it is essential to utilize some of the ethical perspectives in an organization’s daily operation. Recently, it was discovered that Amazon was overworking its employees by making them pack more boxes per hour than the maximum required (Devin & Richards, 2016). The organization further pays employees $11 per hour, which is above the minimum wage; however, employees had to work under harsh conditions. Utilitarianism advocates for the happiness of a greater number of people, which is not the case in Amazon stores. Kantianism proposes that an individual should not use another person as a means to an end; however, Amazon did not apply this theory. As a result, employees and concerned parties filed several lawsuits against the company leading to revenue losses.
Target is another retail food company that demonstrates the most important ethical factors within the business environment. Research shows that Target is one of the companies that suffered from credit card fraud (Ngugi et al., 2020). Hackers were able to take advantage of the flaws the system had and steal personal information from millions of Target’s customers. As a result, they were able to create consternate credit cards that they would use to conduct illegal transactions. Despite these flaws in its system, Target is unwilling to upgrade its credit card system to a more secure one to protect customer data. Thus, they are only concerned with making a profit at the expense of their customers. The reason behind this is because they fear that these changes would affect their profit margins it is an expensive transition.
Whole Foods is another company that demonstrates the importance of ethical business theory. According to experts, the company is credited with providing an excellent working environment for employees (Devin & Richards, 2016). Whole Foods is concerned with achieving higher levels of pleasure for a greater number of people. As a result, it has been able to attract and retain its skilled employees, thereby reducing turnovers. The organization further utilizes its workers and customers as “ends” as defined by the Kantianism ideology. Whole Food does this by offering stock options, retirement plans, and generous health benefits. The organization demonstrates the virtue perspective of ethical practices in its operations. By providing such incentives as retirement plans, the organization has been able to retain numerous employees. Therefore, it has managed to prove that its ideas have been successful in relation to the virtue theory.
How Firms in the Retail Food Industry Address Responsible Corporate and Social Practices in Comparison to their Direct Competitors
As a retail food industry that mainly specializes in health services, CVS’s social responsibility primarily involves promoting consumers’ health. The organization endeavors to enhance the health of society through its Transform Health 2030 program. The program has four key factors it intends to ensure it succeeds. These elements are ensuring that there is the existence of a healthy planet, healthy business, healthy people, and healthy communities (Bollani et al., 2019). These factors increase trust in the business thus attracting more clients to the business. Besides acting as financiers of the business, shareholders stand to benefit from CVS’s social responsibility. An increase in customers for the organization means that the firm’s profit margins would go up, thereby leading to an addition in the value of stocks.
Stakeholders can also be shareholders; however, they are more interested in the long-term performance of the business. The Transform Health 2030 program is a long-term project that would improve the quality of healthcare provided to consumers. One of the key accomplishments of this strategy is that it has enabled the organization to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in more than 4,000 CVS stores (Naruetharadhol et al., 2021). Through this, the organization has been able to bring vaccines closer to members of the community. The impact of this achievement is an increase in the number of clients. Thus, this would help the organization secure its targeted market, thereby ensuring that it would survive in the future. Furthermore, this has increased the organization’s profit margins, which has been beneficial to stakeholders.
Over the past few years, there have been changes in the concept of food in the United States. Most organizations are currently focusing on food products that have been produced using greener, organic, natural methods. Trader Joe’s as one of the grocery stores in the United States is among such food industries whose main responsibility was to eliminate products not produced naturally from its shelves (Kosior, 2020). The goal of this strategy was to ensure that it provides foods that do not cause harm to its consumers. Additionally, the store has programs that advocate for the elimination of huger. As a result, the store has been able to increase its revenue, which has positively influenced its stock revenue. Shareholders have been able to buy more stock, which the organization has used to open more stores in different locations. There has been an increase in the confidentiality levels among stakeholders concerning the business’ ability to thrive.
Costco is a retail food industry in the United States that is privately owned. The organization’s model is centered on social responsibility and as a result has been able to develop rapidly (Lerro et al., 2018). Costco has a business model that ensures that there is excellent treatment of employees, offers benefits to workers, and participates in charitable programs in the community. The firm primarily focuses on its suppliers, shareholders, consumer, and stakeholders. By doing so, it has been able to improve its performance in the retail food sector. Compared to companies such as Walmart, Costco has been able to develop rapidly due to its corporate social responsibility. The organization offers better pay to its employees, which increases employee commitment. Furthermore, the firm provides quality goods and services to its customers, thereby increasing its client base. This further attracts more shareholders and ensures that its stakeholders are satisfied with the organization’s performance.
Recommendations of how Firms could be more ‘Sustainable’ in Relation to their Current Practices, Behaviors and what Needs to be Achieved
From this research, one can tell that the predominant sustainability action for organizations such as Trader Joe’s and CVS is concerned with protecting human life. CVS as an organization is committed to adopting innovations that would produce quality medication for members of the community. Additionally, one of its actions was to eliminate tobacco from its shelves. However, it still has fast food on its shelves and must introduce strategies that would ensure that they incorporate organic foodstuff. On the other hand, Trader Joe’s considers the health of community members. In 2010, the store was committed to removing unhealthy foods from its shelves (Lerro et al., 2018). Within a short while, Trader Joe’s had, on its shelves, foods that were produced using greener methods. Nevertheless, Trader Joe’s should invest in strategies that encourage more farmers to adopt green agricultural methods.
In terms of the level of their sustainability practices, Trader Joe’s has successfully impacted the community. The reason for this is that it has managed to remove all unhealthy food staff from its shelves. Currently, the organization is trading in organic foods that do not harm its customers. Additionally, the organization has influenced its suppliers to adopt greener methods of production. Thus, the organization contributes to the idea of protecting the environment for future generations. Furthermore, advocates for hunger eradication in poor communities, which is mainly caused by climate change. Thus, firms must encourage farmers to use organic farming techniques because this indirectly reduces the production of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.
CVS as an organization in the retail food industry further ranks as one of the organizations that balances sustainability and economic development. The organization mainly depends on innovation to improve its services (Naruetharadhol et al., 2021). Furthermore, it relies on excellent policies that guide its decisions in conserving the environment, while maintaining its economic status. Among the organization’s goals is to ensure that it creates a healthy planet on which people can live. To attain this goal, CVS has launched E-clinics as a complement to the Minute Clinic Video Visit (Naruetharadhol et al., 2021). The advantage of these E-clinics is that they cut down on costs used by the medical provider and the patient. Additionally, they are a faster means of providing healthcare because a patient does not need to wait in long lines at the hospital. These innovations have ensured that CVS makes more profit while providing services at lower costs. Thus, firms must consider investing in new technology that is more environmentally friendly and makes work easier.
The retail food industry has numerous ethical issues that guide the operations of various industries. Food organizations that do not apply these ethical perspectives risk being alienated from society. For instance, organizations such as Walmart are only concerned with the greatest pleasure of their owners and stakeholders at the expense of their employees. The organization makes a lot of profit by utilizing traditional methods of cutting costs to maximize profit. As a result, the company has a bad reputation and is currently being sued for mistreating its workers. Organizations such as CVS and Trader Joe’s are good examples of ethical theories in practice. Their utilitarian theory involves both community and the organization’s members being happy with how they operate because they all benefit. Furthermore, these firms are virtuous and effectively utilize the Kantian theory. In terms of social responsibility, the most predominant aspect of organizations in this industry is that they provide quality goods and services. These firms are further determined to use methods that would maintain a healthier environment in the future. These techniques are in line with the world’s effort in eradicating hunger and reduce global warming.
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